Everything I’ve accomplished and learned in my life has been a direct result of Failure (yes, with a capital ‘F’).
Success and failure are two sides of the same coin and few people ever achieve great success without significant failure, and vice versa.
The funny thing is, most people are obsessed with the idea of success, but they are absolutely terrified of failure.
I’ve seen this in children and adults alike, but more often, it’s the adults that have a fear of losing control.
They want to shake up the status quo, but they don’t want to rock the boat. They want to seize the day, but they don’t want to step out of their comfort zone. They want to pen literary masterpieces but they repeatedly fall back on tried and true idioms (see what I did there?). ;)
When I was a kid, my grandmother once told me, “Success is built on the backs of failure, tears, sweat, and pain. But no one will see that, they’ll only see the final result.”
The key to success? In my humble opinion, is to: fail hard, fail fast, and fail often.
While the definition of success differs from person to person, it is usually measurable and defined by a set of soft and hard skills. To be a successful hyperrealism painter, you need to have patience and an eye for proportions. To be a successful lawyer, you need to be confident and knowledgeable about, well, the law.
To be a successful writer, you need to be fearless and write A LOT. Write all the words. Then write some more.
Pick a skill you want to focus on and keep working on that skill until you get really good at it.
Want to learn how to write better headlines? Write 10,000 of them over the next 3 months. That’s what copywriter Justin Blackman did.
Want to write better emails? Put together a list of 100 potential clients and write personalized emails to one or two of them every day.
Want to write better ads? Open up Facebook, search any product on Amazon, or type any business service into Google. Pick an ad and rewrite it. Make it better.
How to fail prolifically
Readers and writers alike have asked me how I wrote over a million words in four years and published more or less 700,000 of them. There’s no secret in my method at all.
I wrote several hours a day, most days of the week, for years on end. Probably over 6000-7000 hours in a 4-year span. And then spent an additional 2000 hours or so on rewriting and editing. And 1000 hours practicing my craft (writing prompts, sprints, reading craft books, writing classes).
Before I embarked on my author journey, I was also a writer. I started when I was thirteen with short stories, poems and novellas. So you could say I’ve been writing for sixteen years now.
I failed a lot. Scrapped a ton of work (100s of thousands of words). Published stuff that was embarrassingly awful and got criticized for it.
I learned from each and every one of those mistakes.
Over time, your writing will suck less and less.
As your skills develop, your confidence will grow too.
You’ll write faster.
Your words will become more impactful.
You won’t get as bogged down by criticism and self-doubt.
Ideas will come so fast you won’t know what to do with them all.
One day, you’ll suck a lot less than when you first started.
You’ll laugh at your former self, and then thank him/her for doing what he/she did so you could be where you are today.
Most importantly, you will see growth in yourself and your work, which is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
Until then, keep failing, keep sucking, keep learning.